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Abraxas Teachers to Present at OCTELA Conference


Abraxas School of Ohio, an alternative placement partner of Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center (MOESC), is proud to spotlight two of its teachers this month for their contributions to the school as well as their presentation at the OCTELA (Ohio Council for Teachers of English/Language Arts) conference on February 22nd. 

Julie Pfeifer is a Math/ELA teacher and Intervention Specialist with 6 years of experience, 5 of those years being at Abraxas. She has taught a wide variety of classes in addition to the required math courses, including Integrated Reading, Financial Literacy, Life Skills, Health, Cooking, Create a Board Game, Careers, and English.  Casey Lowery is an English/Language Arts teacher who is working on attaining her Intervention Specialist license. She has 5 years of experience, all of those years spent at Abraxas. She teaches English, Multimedia (Journalism & Photography), Career Connections, Theater, and Creative Writing.

Together, Julie Pfeifer and Casey Lowery regularly go above and beyond to make a difference for Abraxas. They teamed up to design and implement what is known as a LAM class, which is a combination class where Language Arts and Math are taught in unison to show the relationship between the two subjects through project-based learning. They have also applied for and obtained multiple grants over the past few years, including four Richland County Foundation TAP grants, a Richland County Foundation Competitive Grant, a Reflex Math Grant, and a SnapDragon grant. The money awarded from these grants have gone towards creating a Life Skills class, purchasing camera equipment for a Photography class, receiving software for math support, math specific books to support understanding, as well as purchasing books to fill and create a school library. 

Abraxas School Principal Shelly Patrick said their support also goes outside the classroom walls. “When Casey and Julie aren’t busy planning activities for Pi Day, Outdoor Classroom Day, or starting a school-wide, after-hours book club, they can be found in their Abraxas Bulldogs attire, supporting their students at football and basketball games.”

Both women have attended the OCTELA conference in Columbus, Ohio, for the past 3 years and this year are honored to participate in the conference as presenters. After submitting a proposal, they were accepted to present on the topic “THUGLIFE,” an acronym that stands for “Technology and Humanities Utilizing Genre-Specific Literature with Interactive, Formative Elements.” The title was inspired by the novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which was read and studied in their combined LAM class. 

The presentation covers student projects and also teaching tips for covering diverse and culturally relevant literature. They also discuss the integration of technology in the classroom as a way to formatively assess students while also focusing on 21st Century Learning Skills. Finally, the women give tips and suggestions on how to integrate ELA Common Core Standards with Math Standards through real world projects that focus on problem-solving, and the integration of Social Emotional Standards through the lens of teaching in a residential treatment facility. 

Patrick said, “The part of the presentation that Julie and Casey are most excited about is the opportunity to educate others on the difficult, yet rewarding opportunities that come with teaching at-risk youth. They enjoy the challenging atmosphere that comes with teaching at a residential facility because it offers the ability to teach outside of the box and invent new ways to overcome the obstacles their students face.” 

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